After the beginning of the 3rd century there were still no doubt men under the control of the hierarchy who experienced the prophetic ecstasy, or clerics like Cyprian who professed to have received special directions from God; but prophets by vocation no longer existed and these sporadic utterances were in no sense placed on a level with the contents of the sacred Scriptures.
When the national independence was destroyed, the prophetic teaching held the people together in the hope of a re-establishment of the Kingdom when all nations should be subject to it and blessed in its everlasting reign of righteousness and peace (Isa.
This date, then, is a likely lower limit for Hermas's revision of his earlier prophetic memoranda, and their publication in a single homogeneous work, such as the Shepherd appears to be.
Picus rejected her advances, and the goddess in her anger changed him into a woodpecker, which pecks impotently at the branches of trees, but still retains prophetic powers.
In his prophetic capacity he published two remarkable books: Chartism (1829), enlarged from an article which Lockhart, though personally approving, was afraid to take for the Quarterly; and Past and Present (1843), in which the recently published Mediaeval Chronicle was taken as a text for the exposure of modern evils.
But from a comparison of prophetic passages of the Old Testament learned apocalyptic writers came to the conclusion that a distinction must be drawn between the earthly appearance of the Messiah and the appearance of God Himself amongst His people and in the Gentile world for the final judgment.
In the domestic circles of prophetic communities the part played by their great heads in history did not suffer in the telling, and it is probable that some part at least of the extant history of the Israelite kingdom passed through the hands of men whose interest lay in the pre-eminence of their seers and their beneficent deeds on behalf of these small communities.
At a later time, when the validity of the Montanistic prophecy was called in question, the adherents of the new movement appealed explicitly to a sort of prophetic succession, in which their prophets had received the same gift which the daughters of Philip, for example, had exercised in that very country of Phrygia.
It does not, of course, follow that everyone who had shared in the divine afflatus of prophetic enthusiasm gave forth oracles; but the prophets as a class stood nearer than other men to the mysterious workings of Yahweh, and it was in their circle that revelation seemed to have its natural home.
Elisha's indignation can be illustrated by the denunciation passed upon an anonymous king by the prophetic party on a similar occasion (I Kings xx.